• Premier League

Di Matteo critical of Premier League scheduling

ESPN staff
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Roberto Di Matteo is unhappy with the Premier League © PA Photos
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Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo believes the Premier League is putting the health of his player's at risk ahead of Sunday's clash with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Di Matteo was left fuming after the governing body rejected the Blues' request to have their December 8 match with Sunderland postponed because of their Club World Cup duties.

The European champions will play in the semi-final on December 13 in Yokohama, Japan, and Di Matteo says the Premier League has failed to support Chelsea in their pursuit of intercontinental glory.

"You would think that the Premier League would have every interest in making sure that they give you the best chance to be successful in Japan, which would reflect very, very well on English football and the Premier League. So, I'm very surprised about it.

"I just can't my head round it. To give yourself the best chance travelling to Japan, with nine hours time difference, arriving three days before, you will need to do everything in your power to be able to ready for those games.

"The tournament starts on the 6th so the team we play in the semi-finals will have been there already for a week. It's a big risk in terms of health, injury risk for the players too.

"The fixture list is obviously very full. But where there's a will, there's a way. You see all the other federations trying to help their teams to do well in Europe," Di Matteo stated.

Last season, Di Matteo was unhappy with Chelsea having to kick off their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona at 6pm, and the 42-year-old insists the occasion of the Club World Cup should be given more respect by officials in England.

"It's one of the biggest trophies in international club football, if not the biggest. Maybe, in England, it's not regarded as so big but you speak to the South Americans, you speak to the Asians, you speak to everybody else involved, it's a massive, massive competition.

"We've never won it. Obviously you need to win the Champions League to even be able to play and be involved. To win that trophy would be something special.

"It's massive. Winning that trophy would mean the world. It's a trophy we don't have in our cabinet and we desperately want to bring it to Stamford Bridge."

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